Half of UK population now has Covid-19 antibodies

30 March 2021, 13:39 | Updated: 3 April 2021, 06:53

People walk and ride beside in warm spring sunshine beside the Serpentine in Hyde Park as England's lockdown eases
People walk and ride beside in warm spring sunshine beside the Serpentine in Hyde Park as England's lockdown eases. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Roughly half of the UK's population now has antibodies for Covid-19, according to the latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The findings mean that more than 50 per cent of people living in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have either had coronavirus in the past or have received a dose of the vaccine in the week to 14 March.

England has the highest percentage of people with antibodies - 54.7 per cent - according to the ONS estimate, followed by Wales - 50.5 per cent - and Northern Ireland (49.3 per cent).

The figures are for people in private households and do not include settings such as hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings.

More than half the UK's population has either had Covid or been vaccinated, according to ONS estimates
More than half the UK's population has either had Covid or been vaccinated, according to ONS estimates. Picture: PA

In Scotland, the ONS estimated around two in five people - 42.6 per cent - in private households would have tested positive for Covid antibodies in the week to 14 March.

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For the over-80s in private households in England, 86 per cent were likely to have tested positive for antibodies to the virus for the same period, the ONS said.

The estimate for 75 to 79-year-olds is 88.5 per cent, for 70 to 74-year-olds it is 91.3 per cent, and for 65 to 69 year-olds it is 89 per cent.

Likewise, these figures do not include settings such as hospitals and care homes.

It takes between two and three weeks after being infected or inoculated for the human body to produce enough antibodies to fight Covid-19.

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In Wales, an estimated four in five people aged 80 and over were likely to have tested positive for coronavirus antibodies in the week to 14 March, while in Scotland the estimate is almost three in four people, the ONS said.

The statistics agency uses different age groups in Northern Ireland due to small sample sizes. However, it estimates three-quarters of those aged 70 and over were likely to have tested positive for antibodies in this period.

All the above figures are also for people in private households.

The Telegraph reported Kevin McConway, Emeritus Professor of Applied Statistics at the Open University, as saying: "The upward trend in antibody positivity in the latest data will principally be because more and more people are being vaccinated since the level of actual virus infections is fairly low across all the UK countries."